"On the one hand, it's challenging definitely because it's my hometown, and I know people there. But on the other hand, I know that one of the reasons I came here, is not only because of myself, of my own faith, but because I want to share it.”
Elena is one of the trip's organizers. She's also one of 18 student at the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome. In just days, the class will head to her native Lithuania for two weeks.
The first week they will spend in classroom at schools and universities, the second, in the streets, with one message to share.
"An example of how young Catholics can live, and it will inspire young people, especially non believers to start to do something. And people who are already in the Church to renew it and to go further.”
Six months ago, those plans would have been difficult for Elena without the preparation from the school of mission.
It was founded 15 years ago by the Emmanuel Community, a Catholic evangelization group. They established four campuses: in Rome, Germany, France and the Philippines.
Co-Director, Emmanuel School of Mission
"It takes great guts to come here because you're giving up everything for nine months and saying God I wanna do what you want me to do. And I'm gonna go somewhere completely out of my comfort zone.”
But being in the heartland of Catholicism adds another dimension. All students in Rome experienced the election of Pope Francis. His message to youth did not go unnoticed.
"I heard him on Palm Sunday, his speech on the youth, and I think we can expect a lot of good things from him, especially in Rio when he's gonna come to World Youth Day.”
"I try to read everything quotes, his speech, homily. We have a special board with some quotes from his homily or from Twitter.”
The school in Rome has students from all over the world, from as far away as Malaysia or Australia. Students stay at the Domus Aurelia, a hotel owned by the Emmanuel Community. And in fact, hotel stays partly fund the school.
That money helps students in need cover the $13,000 price tag for the program. But for many, the costs are well worth the time.
"I think it's one of the best decision of my life really.”
In addition to spiritual formation, the students also receive a certificate from the Vatican's Lateran University.
But more than that, the experience gives them the tools to reach out to others and share their faith.